ERC Grant for Jaap den Toonder (TU/e) for vibrating artificial cilia in microfluidic chips
hDMT researcher Jaap den Toonder of the Eindhoven University of Technology has received an Advanced Grant of 3 million euros from the European Research Council (ERC). He will develop vibrating artificial cilia to study and better understand the effect of forces and flows on cells and tissues.
Almost every process in biology is based on biomechanical interactions between cells and their environment. In the lab the forces and flows between cells are often investigated by imitating fluid flows with valves and pumps, but lack precision and control needed.
Therefore Jaap den Toonder, Professor of Microsystems, wants to build micro cilia that consist of flexible polymers with magnetic nanoparticles so they can be easily moved by magnetic fields. "When placed in a microfluidic chip the vibrating cilia enables us to generate a flow in the surrounding fluid or forces on cells that we grow in their vicinity. That enables us to measure the biomechanical response of the cells very accurately," Den Toonder says.
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Vibrating hairs, or cilia, are ultra-thin microscopic hairs, which move tightly packed together like a crowd doing the 'wave' in a stadium. Photos: Eindhoven University of Technology / Jaap den Toonder